On Ice Cream and Manure

Tony Campolo once said, Mixing politics and religion is like mixing ice cream and manure; it really doesn't affect the manure much, but it really messes up the ice cream." The problem is that it is so easy to mix up the two. I just got another reminder this week.

Jon Cash, the longtime weatherman at WAVY TV-10 was fired last week after 21 years on the job. He was the early morning weather guy and early morning news is the only news I watch. So I've spent a lot his Jon's career watching him and his nice-guy, easy-going, slightly-goofy approach to early morning TV. Two more things draw me to the guy-- he is a Redskin fan and he is a preacher. While he talks about the Redskins all the time, I’ve never heard him talk about his faith or his weekend ministry speaking at churches on the air. I am very bummed out that Jon lost his job (though not nearly as bummed out as Jon and his family must be).

So why was he fired? No one is saying. WAVY isn't interested in eyewitness news about itself. But then, being a Redskin fan generally won’t get you fired in this area (though it will does lead to chronic depression). Cash initially said on his website that said “People of faith will be disappointed” when they learn of the reasons. Frankly, I had already decided that I was not watching WAVY TV-10 news... or anything else on the local NBC-affiliate(except Sunday night football of; no need to be a radical extremist about this).

But the message posted on Cash’s website yesterday disappointed me. There is still no word about the reason for his firing, thought he does promise “future statements detailing the events surrounding my brutal firing must be and will be told to the nation in a live broadcast in October.” (So... is Jon already booked on Fox News?) I guess Jon isn’t going “gentle into that good night” but will “rage, rage against the dying of the light.” What follows on his site is heartfelt to be sure; his heart is broken and he feels betrayed right now... and has every right to be. But what he says comes across (to me) as a political rant of Limbaugh-esque proportions.

We are watching citizens lose their homes because of the failure and greed of our system. We are watching the middle class destroyed, mimicking a system that has failed as I myself have witnessed walking the streets of Moscow. We are watching as people try to drive God from every aspect of public life. We are watching fellow brothers and sisters get fired for their faith in our God, or for our founding principles…

So was his disagreement with WAVY about politics or religion, manure or ice cream? Nobody is saying, but his web rant (to me) seems to blend the two. Jon may have been treated unfairly because of his faith... or maybe because of his politics. We have all known Christians that are personally annoying and who do everything they can to hang a “kick-me” sign on their back. And there is a tone in Jon’s rant that makes me wonder. And if I wonder that (and I'm still not watching WAVY in the a.m.), I wonder how non-Christians will view this whole fiasco?

Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church.” There was something about the quiet and dignified way that Christians faced persecution and death that reinforced the truthfulness of their message. Peter wrote to the very people soon to die with him under Nero

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (1 Pet 4:12-14)

Peter is writing to Christians who are suffering the persecutions of a world that has turned against them. 1 Peter was likely written before the official persecutions of Rome began; that will come later to these readers. Peter is writing to believers who are suffering the unofficial opposition of a world that does not understand nor accept their faith.

What Peter tells them is to live holy lives (1 Pt 1:13ff) as “aliens and strangers in the world” (1 Pt 2:11) who submit to the rulers of the world (1 Pt 2:13) and thus silence the foolish accusations of others (1 Pt 2:15) and show proper respect to everyone (1 Pt 2:17). And if they do suffer for doing good, they were remember that Jesus suffered for them (1 Pt 2:21). They were not to repay insult for insult (1 Pt 3:9) as they suffer for doing right (1 Pt 3:14) and they were to be prepared to give answer to those who ask about their hope (1 Pt 3:15).

Peter thought that how Christians handled opposition was critical to how their faith would be seen by non-believers. And it still is.